This dissertation investigates the frequency and intensity of severe convective storms, and their associated hazards, in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area (TCMA), Minnesota. Using public severe weather reports databases and high spatial density rain gauge data, annual frequencies and return-periods are calculated for tornadoes, damaging winds, large hail, and flood-inducing rainfall. The hypothesis that severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are less likely in the central TCMA than in surrounding areas also is examined, and techniques for estimating 100-year rainfall amounts are developed and discussed.
This research finds that: i) storms capable of significant damage somewhere within the TCMA recur annually (sometimes multiple times per year), while storms virtually certain to cause such damage recur every 2-3 years; ii) though severe weather reports data are not amenable to classical comparative statistical testing, careful treatment of them suggests all types and intensity categories of severe convective weather have been and should continue to be approximately as common in the central TCMA as in surrounding areas; and iii) applications of Generalized Extreme Value (GEV) statistics and areal analyses of rainfall data lead to significantly larger (25-50%) estimates of 100-year rainfall amounts in the TCMA and parts of Minnesota than those currently published and used for precipitation design. The growth of the TCMA, the popular sentiment that downtown areas somehow deter severe storms and tornadoes, and the prior underestimation of extreme rainfall thresholds for precipitation design, all act to enhance local susceptibility to hazards from severe convective storms.